The Women's Political Caucus of New Jersey is hosting a gala in December, sponsored by one of the state's leading corporations, New Jersey Resources, to showcase the achievements of five distinguished women and men.

The honorees at this year's annual event are R. Barbara Gitenstein, Ph.D., president of the College of New Jersey, Eleanore S. Nissley, a grand dame of the Bergen County GOP, Gloria E. Soto, Esq., executive director of government affairs at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone and Roger Bodman, a senior partner of Public Strategies Impact.

Gitenstein, who is the first woman to serve as president of TCNJ, and Nissley, a former commissioner of the state Sports and Exposition Authority, will receive the 2009 Women of Achievement Awards at the Dec. 1 event at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick.

Hollie Gilroy, president of the multi-partisan women's organization, said this year's award recipients are role models for women throughout the state. "They are the epitomes of great leaders," Gilroy said.

Since Gitenstein was named president of TCNJ in 1999, it emerged as one of the nation's top valued colleges, Gilroy said. She described Nissley as a powerful force in Bergen County politics who now serves as a state Republican committeewoman.

The Women's Political Caucus was founded in 1972 as an advocacy group committed to bringing more progressive women into elected and appointed government posts. The group's mission is also to protect reproductive freedom and promote equal rights for women. Its annual award dinner is affectionately known as the 3Ps - to reflect the group's emphasis on "Passion, Power, and Progress."

While caucus is dedicated to empowering women, the organization also salutes men who help women excel. This year's recipients of the "Good Guys" awards are Pallone (D-6th District), senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which will be instrumental in the health care reform legislation, and Bodman, senior partner at Public Strategies Impact, a Trenton-based lobbying firm.

The sponsor of the gala, New Jersey Resources, will also receive the corporate award at the dinner. The firm is a Fortune 1000 company, which provides energy services throughout New Jersey.

This year's Mary Philbrook Award will be bestowed on Gloria E. Soto Esq., executive director of government affairs at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The award's namesake was the first female lawyer in New Jersey. The award dinner raises fund for the organization's education program and candidate support. This year the caucus endorsed 27 women in their bids to win seats in the state Assembly. The organization also contributed a total of $13,350 to their campaigns.